Baptism of Etta Ann Frerichs
Pentecost 21 Trinity Lutheran Church
9 October 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Baptism of Etta Ann Frerichs
What great joy today! A baptism! A divine miracle in your midst! No doubt the Lord repented and faithed you all the more. Reminding you of what He gave you in your baptism. And even more of that in today’s sermon! So I must press on! Here goes! Hang on tight! Fasten your seat belts.
Carrie Underwood’s hit song “There’s Something In The Water” is exactly right. The “something” in the water of Holy Baptism is God’s divine and all-powerful Word by which Etta Ann was given the divine and saving name of the holy Trinity. Etta Ann was given the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She belongs to the holy Trinity. With the giving of the Triune Name the Trinity promises to be God FOR HER! Again what joy! No need to worry about what God thinks about her.
Jesus hooks His Word to the water of Holy Baptism. I said “holy” baptism. It’s holy because it’s the Lord’s! His doing. His giving. Through His Word! The Matthew 28:19 mandate and institution Word of the Lord Jesus Himself! His Word does and gives what it says in, with and under the water. Never forget that. It’s always: “holy” baptism. Just like it’s “holy” scripture. Or “holy” absolution or “holy” communion. Got it? Good.
Next, where God puts His name He’s there. To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized by God Himself. With the giving of His divine name in holy baptism the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit promise to act and be God for the one who is baptized.
What Jesus institutes and gives is never a nothing. So Jesus bids the apostles to “make disciples of all nations by baptizing” in the Triune name (Mt 28:19). That’s not an option. He mandates it. For the delivery of His Good Friday and Easter Resurrection benefits and gifts.
So, fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection there is St. Peter. He’s doing exactly what Jesus mandates. He calls sinners to repentance (the heart of which is faith in Jesus) and to be given the gift of holy baptism. “Repent and be baptized,” Peter said. “Be baptized.” That’s the passive voice. In other words, when you’re baptized you’re simply given to. You’re a receiver of what God gives.
Etta Ann is the perfect example. She did nothing today. She was an absolute, total, complete do nothing. Jesus did everything. Jesus alone died for her. He alone atoned for all her sin. So now today the Lord Jesus gave her the gift of holy baptism. Learn this well brothers and sisters. Holy baptism, one of the ways Jesus delivers His Good Friday salvation, like salvation’s achievement on the cross is not something you do! In any way, shape or form! Did you hear that? I’ll say it again because some of you were beginning to nod off already or your minds were wandering. Just as Christ’s death on the cross is totally His work and gift FOR YOU to achieve your salvation, so BAPTISM IS WHAT GOD GIVES! BESTOWS! DONATES! Namely, His divine name (Mt. 28:19) and everything that goes with it – all the benefits of Christ’s Good Friday death. As you will soon hear from the blessed apostle Peter himself.
“Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Who? How many? Peter’s answer will blow your minds. Listen: “every one of you.” That matches the Lord’s mandate in Matthew 28, “make disciples of ALL nations by baptizing ….” “All” in Matthew 28. In obedience to the Lord Jesus, Peter says that “every one of you” needs to “be baptized.” Jesus died for everyone and FOR YOU on the Good Friday cross. Jesus wants all nations to be discipled through holy baptism.
Then Peter preaches the benefits of holy baptism. WHAT? DID I JUST SAY BENEFITS? Yes I did. Again, holy baptism is never a nothing. Through the water hooked with the mandate and institution Word of Jesus in Mt. 28:19 God gives you His Name. And with His name given in holy baptism come … according to Peter … “the forgiveness of sins … and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
When you’re given the divine name in Holy Baptism, you’re given the Good Friday forgiveness that Jesus achieved for you. You are literally washed clean – purified – cleansed by the divine blood of Jesus in holy baptism. That comes with the gift of the divine name. And you’re also given the “gift of the Holy Spirit” who is the Lord and Giver of life. In other words, you are born again! Jesus says so in John 3:5. You’re born anew through the water and the Spirit. St. Paul echoes the Lord’s teaching in Titus 3: God “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Holy Baptism is a little Pentecost! With the divine name Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the baptized. And there the Holy Spirit does exactly what Jesus said He would do in John 16:14: “He [the Holy Spirit],” Jesus promised “will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
So when you’re sins are forgiven and you’ve been given the Holy Spirit in holy baptism, are you saved? Well? Of course you are! It comes as pure gift. Not just to adults but also to the kids. Peter says so: “This promise [of forgiveness and Holy Spirit] is FOR YOU and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
“FOR YOU.” That’s gift talk. When the Lord’s giving out His gifts He’s always saying: “Here this is FOR YOU.” Including your children. “Let the children come to me; do not hinder or prevent them for to such belongs the kingdom of God,” Jesus said in Mark 10. Jesus died for the kids too. Even the infants. One of the ways He delivers the benefits of His dying to sinners is holy baptism. You wouldn’t prevent little Etta Ann from being brought to Jesus in holy baptism to receive His Good Friday forgiveness and being Holy Spirit-ed, would you? Well, would you? Of course not! You have today’s text and it’s clear: “this promise is FOR YOU and for your children and for all.” And the Lord’s Word from Mark 16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”
That promise is for Etta Ann. Teach her this Monte and Lynae. Help her to cling to the Lord’s gracious Word! That’s the something in the water that Carrie Underwood sings about. Etta Ann will need to always hear the Lord’s Word of promise given to her in holy baptism . Just like you do. And all the rest of us too! Jesus does not lie! He keeps His promises.
No wonder then that the Large Catechism rejoices in the gift of Holy Baptism in this profound way: “We must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: ‘But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.’” Indeed!
Happy Baptism Day Etta Ann!
In the name of Jesus.